“Thank you for letting me be the first black woman to headline Coachella,” Beyoncé told a loving crowd that, predictably, responded enthusiastically. Indeed, since her Lemonade album, the “woke” Beyoncé hasn't shied away from political and social issues, and she took full advantage of the Coachella platform on Saturday night. This only complemented her signature high-caliber performance, which was chockfull of complex choreography, spot-on vocals, call-backs to past artists (this performance featured “Lilac Wine” by Nina Simone), four costumes, dancers and a full live band.
Beyoncé's Coachella performance, which began with Queen B proclaiming, “Welcome to Beyoncé's homecoming 2018,” kept her on the same political track she started going down two years ago with Lemonade (although, to be fair, she's been a strong vocal advocate for feminism and women's right as far back as her Destiny's Child days).
During “Sorry,” Beyoncé took a break from the “suck on my balls” line to ask the audience, “Ladies, are we smart? Are we strong? Have we had enough?” The response she received serves as a reminder of just how important it is that high-profile figures such as Beyoncé stay involved and vocal.
Later, a recording of Malcolm X played, stating, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Juxtaposed with Beyoncé's band and dancers, almost entirely people of color, it was a powerful message.
Speaking of the group, Beyoncé celebrated her “homecoming” with a full live band, bringing a complete musical experience to Coachella sans computer manipulation. And it wasn't just a full band and a gaggle of dancers that joined her onstage. She invited husband Jay-Z up for “Déjà Vu,” as well as her sister Solange to
dance with her to the extended remix of “Get Me Bodied.” Of course, the most exciting guests for fans were Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, whom Beyoncé welcomed onstage for a Destiny's Child reunion (sure, it was the festival's worst-kept secret but still, hair-raising), singing a medley of songs with them.
Beyoncé proved that there are few artists from her generation of the same caliber. She showed off her arsenal of hits (and still left some on the cutting-room floor — no “Halo” or “Irreplaceable”?), danced her ass off alongside contortionists, baton twirlers and her Les Twin dancers, and still managed to hit every note perfectly.
“[They're] going to rename Coachella to Beychella,” said a voice-over of Beyoncé friend and collaborator DJ Khaled during the performance. In advance of her doing it all over again this coming weekend, maybe they should.